Category Archives: Interviews

Kangaroos on the fly

 

Rowena gate

 

The following footage was taken from the dashboard and out the window as I drove through Rowena Station, a sheep and cattle property off the Silver City Highway in the Northern NSW rangelands. 

I was on my way to visit Matt and Sara Jackson.

Matt and Sara Jackson outside at Rowena Station

 

They moved into the station after they were married in 2000. Matt is a local, having grown up on the next property and Sara is originally from Adelaide. 

Their two young boys, Archie and Sam are home schooled through the School of the Air in Broken Hill. They were having a great time demonstrating their honed motor biking skills.

On top of the very warm welcome I received, we talked about…

rain…

Usually it’s not too bad but the last 10 years have been really bad. It’s the same all over the country. 

Rowena's windmill

 

grazing…

We try not to overstock the place. That grey bush, it’s woody weed, not much eats that unless it’s really dry, they’ll have a nibble. We try to maintain the green because that’s what gets you through the hard times.

When it buggers off they’ll go to the salt bush and start eating it as their sole diet. That’s what gets them through. If you flog it right from the start then you can’t keep them on as long in a dry time. It’s a bit of a balance.

Rowena sheep

 

KANGAROOS…

As soon as there’s one thunder storm all the roos and neighbours, even ours, they all go to that paddock. It would be nothing to have 2000 roos just in one spot. The grass just doesn’t get a chance to grow. It will stay at ground level. They’ll just mow it down… leave it like a carpet. It tries to grow but the roos just sit on it and flog it. It never grows so it doesn’t set seed properly so they are a threat.

You’ll never get rid of the bloody roos, unless there’s a massive ice age that freezes them all.

A harsh landscape

 

and the general attitudes to these bouncers…

Don’t get me wrong – all the station people love to see the odd kangaroo around… just not at uncontrollable levels. We get plagues every now and then. If we get a good season now we’ll have a plague again. They’ll just go berserk. Because it’s been dry for so long, numbers have died down a bit. But there are still plenty of kangaroos around.

They still issue plenty of tags for professionals to go and hunt them for meat. They give you a quota. On that same token, you’ll never get rid of them because it’s so regulated. The National Parks knows how many are shot. The only way they don’t actually know how many are shot is when a grazier goes and gets the shoot and let lie. That’s when you’ve got thousands of roos. You might have been the only place to get storms on your property and all the roos coming from everywhere to your place. They’ll go and get the let lie tags and they’re allowed to go and shoot as many roos as tags are given but it’s not actually regulated to the point where you’ve got to tell the parks whether you’ve lost all those tags, shot a heap or shot more than tags were given.

People aren’t going to get tags to shoot 100 roos. It’s only when there’s high levels that they say they have to do something about it and get out there a shoot a few. 

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Filed under Interviews, People and the environment, Rangelands (Fowlers Gap), Visuals

Brian Mooney of Diamantina Shire talks about visitors and Bush Heritage in the Simpson Desert

Brian Mooney, Tourism and Development Manager at Diamantina Shire, takes us through some of this thoughts on visitors and Bush Heritage.

Bedourie, the administrative centre of the Diamantina Shire (twice the size of Denmark), lies in the area known as the Channel Country in southwestern Queensland. With 14 cattle stations in the Shire, which is roughly 95,000 square kilometres, beef production is a major industry driving services in these remote parts of the country.

One of the Bush Heritage Australia properties in the area, Cravens Peak, had been run as a pastoral holding managed for beef production since 1975. When Bush Heritage purchased the land in 2005 all cattle were removed in a bid to help conserve the Mulligan River catchment area. 

It is clear that towns like Bedourie exist because of the cattle and grazing industry. These are places with deep and rich histories – much of which shapes the outback ‘Australian’ mystique even for those who have never left the ‘city’. As I will explore in future posts, each side of the picture (agriculture and Conservation) needs to painted. They need not be, and in many cases are not, on different sides. 

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Interviews, People and the environment

“The conservationist”

Peter Bevan, a member of the Fowlers Gap Graziers Committee, spent his life working on the 75,000 Ha Sturts Meadows sheep station 88 kilometres north of Broken Hill. Recently retired, he and his wife Mary have moved into town and left their son and daughter in law, Randall and Josephine, to run the property.

While visiting Peter and Mary in Broken Hill, Peter gave me a copy of this poem. I was asking about the relationship between ‘conservationists’ and land owners and this, it seems, is one playful take on the situation.

If anything, it underlines the importance of considering every opinion. All those I spoke with were connected to the land, but in different ways and with varying priorities. I think sharing knowledge, like this, will help bridge gaps that exist between interest groups.  

As the poem suggests, the solution doesn’t lie the Turramurra man’s pointing of fingers… We need to look at the big picture. Stay ‘tuned’ for posts exploring these different voices (scientists, land owners and managers, director of Fowlers Gap, Broken Hill Council) in the coming month. 

THE CONSERVATIONIST

In a sprawling western region, that’s called the Country Finch

Lives an old time western grazier, by the name of Billy Glinch

He is roughly equidistant, from Goodooga and the Ridge

Along the Narran River, quite near the Bangate Bridge

To his outback domicile, one day in mid July

Came a bearded, glassed intruder, with a sickly looking smile.

His car was such a sight, as Bill had hardly seen

G.T. stripes, chrome all round, iridescent green

He said he was the chairman, of a conservation club

Told how they met each Thursday, in a Turramurra Pub

With modest understatement, said he’d saved a whale or two

And his mission now, God willing, to stop extinction of the “roo”.

“By George”,  said Bill, “you’re just the man, I’ve hankered for to meet

I try to keep the odd one going, out here in the heat

You know there’s near four million of you, down there by the sea

If you’d all take just one kangaroo, it would be the very Pea

The kangaroos all lived down there, when Australia was a pup

I’ll send you down my culls next year, we’ll breed the beggars up”.

Now Billy was a prankster, as his neighbours will attest

For they’ve often been a victim of his morbid sense of jest

The roos were there in millions, a lying out of sight

Waiting for their dinner-time, which is the dark of night

Bill thought the odds were even, if he kept him as a guest

Until the daylight disappeared, the roos would do the rest.

So he talked of conservation, till the moon was in the sky

And the Man from Turramurra, said he’d really have to fly

The track was fileld with rock and scrub, a traverse to be feared

(Last time the council did the road the grader disappeared)

The roos were big and built like bears, suicidal too,

A Sherman Tank was no defence from a South-Goodooga Blue.

Sun-up on the morrow, found old Billy out in the lorry

T’was just a mile or two before he came upon his quarry,

A hulk of twisted metal, a crumbled heap of green

Four dead roos on the roadside, the biggest Bill had seen

Amid the fur and chrome and shambles, of this devastating scene

Sat the Man from Turramurra, with his gills a sickly green.

Bill said, “You blokes from Sydney Town, by George I think you’re find

A family here you’ve gone and killed, God help you if they’re mine”

He let himself be mollified, by a wallet full of notes

While secretly assessing, the value of the costs

“I’ll send a tow-truck out, and I think you’d better head

Or the kangaroos you’re saving will all the bloody dead”.

Now down in Turramurra, ‘neath a leafy Laurel tree

The Conservationist sits in exquisite agony

He writes to all the papers now, and tells the folks to act

About the brooding menace, that is breeding up outback

And when he hears the sounds of brakes, he starts in deadly fear

And wonders If Old Billy will send cull kangaroos this year.

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Filed under Australian landscape's 'character', Interviews, People and the environment, Rangelands (Fowlers Gap)

Bush Heritage’s Cravens Peak reserve managers talk about life in the desert

Mark and Nella Lithgow have been reserve managers on Bush Heritage’s Cravens Peak property for 18 months. They are also responsible for taking care of neighbouring Ethabuka.

We’ve got the biggest diversity in reptiles region in the world. That’s something worth boasting about. We’d like more people to know about it and value it for what it is.

Nella Lithgow

We’re in the heart of grazing country and we’re surround by cattle properties. When a new shoot comes up off a tree a cow chomps it off straight away. Here, we get to keep ours and we can actually see what’s happening.

Mark Lithgow

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Bringing the project to life, Interviews, People and the environment, Research is underway!

Voices from the desert…

Here’s a package including some of the photos you’ve seen and the all important thoughts of the November 2009 Simpson Desert research trip volunteers.

The complete surrounding sound of silence is so beautiful. It’s a feeling of being nowhere, but being in the right place and loving it…

– Megan Hughes.

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Filed under Arid dry-zone (Simpson Desert), Australian landscape's 'character', Bringing the project to life, Interviews, People and the environment, Putting it in context, Research is underway!

Adam Munn on the Australian rangelands

Adam talks about his research comparing grazing requirements of sheep and kangaroo at Fowlers Gap in the rangelands of western NSW.

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Filed under Interviews, Rangelands (Fowlers Gap), Research is underway!

Mark Browne talks about seawalls and flowerpots

In the following video Mark Browne talks about attaching flower pots, which act as rock pools at low tide, to seawalls in Sydney harbour.

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Filed under Bringing the project to life, Interviews, People and the environment, Sydney Harbour (seawalls)